Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Andruw Jones Signing Becomes Official

Andruw Jones Will Be A Yankee in 2012

According to our partner blog, Lohud Yankees Blog, The Yankees have officially re-signed Andruw Jones to a 1 year major league contract with potential incentives. This officially makes our 40 man roster full with an unofficial signing of Hiroki Kuroda to come. Here is a little info about Andruw courtesy of Lohud Yankees Blog:

The Yankees finally made this move official. Here’s the announcement.

 The New York Yankees today announced they have re-signed five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder Andruw Jones to a one-year Major League contract.
Jones, 34, batted .247 (47-for-190) with 27 runs, eight doubles, 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 77 games in his debut season with the Yankees in 2011, appearing in 39 games in left field, 19 games in right field and 16 games at designated hitter. He recorded his highest average, on-base percentage (.356) and slugging percentage (.495) since 2006. Following the All-Star break, he hit .291 (30-for-103), including a .344 (21-for-61) mark off left-handers in the second half. Overall, he batted .286 (36-for-126) off left-handed pitching with 16 of his 36 hits off lefties going for extra bases (eight doubles and 8HR).

Jones is a 16-year Major League veteran, appearing in 2,102 combined games with Atlanta (1996-2007), Los Angeles-NL (2008), Texas (2009), Chicago-AL (2010) and the Yankees (2011). He owns a .256 (1,887-for-7,366) career batting average with 376 doubles, 36 triples, 420 home runs and 1,255 RBI, and is one of four players all time—and the only active player—with at least 400 career home runs and 10 Gold Glove Awards, joining Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Ways and Mike Schmidt.

Originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent in 1993, Jones ranks 45th on Baseball’s all-time home runs list, hitting at least 25 homers in 10 consecutive seasons from 1998-2007 (tied for fourth-most such seasons among active players currently signed with a Major League team) and recording seven seasons of 30-or-more home runs. He has also collected at least 100 RBI in a season five times and scored at least 100 runs four times. He is a career .262 (497-for-1,894) batter against left-handed pitchers with 110 home runs.

Jones’s defense garnered him 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards with the Braves from 1998-2007, making him one of just five outfielders in Major League history to win the honor that many times – also Roberto Clemente (12), Willie Mays (12), Ken Griffey Jr. (10) and Al Kaline (10). Over the last three seasons (2009-11), has combined in left field and right field for a .987 fielding percentage (three errors, 233 total chances). He is a career .273 (65-for-238) batter in the postseason with eight doubles, 10 home runs and 34 RBI, appearing in 76 career playoff games.

A native of Willemstad, Curacao, Jones became the third player from Curacao to reach the Majors when he made his debut at 19 years, three months and 23 days old on August 15, 1996 with Atlanta, joining Yankees outfielder Hensley Meulens and Florida’s Ralph Milliard.
The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 40.

This signing makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. He can still play adequate defense and can absolutely mash left handed pitching. He is still somewhat of a power threat off the bench as well. He could slide into a situational DH spot as well for us against LHP. Good signing Cashman!

Kim Jones Leaving YES Network

Kim Jones Leaving YES Network

This post is being borrowed from Neil Best and his twitter account, seen here, among other places. Here is the write up:

After seven seasons at YES,  will not return in 2012. YES offered her a contract but she opted to explore other opportunities

Kim Jones is leaving the YES Network? Who am I going to drool over now? Hmm...

ESPN's Erin Andrews

Here's to wishing!

Developing Pitchers

If only the Yankees could develop ace-like starters.

A comment under my post at the LoHud Yankees blog has been rattling around my head for a few hours now. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it was in the form of a question, which went something like this...

Why can't the Yankees develop ace-like pitchers, instead of buying or trading for them?

I looked up the top 10 Yankee starters, in terms of WAR, over the last 10 years. Here's the list, including where they started their careers...

Mike Mussina - 31, drafted by Baltimore
Andy Pettitte - 24.8, drafted by NYY
CC Sabathia - 18.8, drafted by Cleveland
Chien Ming-Wang - 12.8, signed by NYY (spent 5 years in minors before MLB debut)
Roger Clemens - 11.4, drafted by Boston
David Wells - 8.4, drafted by Toronto
Randy Johnson - 8.2, drafted by Montreal
AJ Burnett - 6.4, drafted by NYM (spent 2+ years in Florida's minors before MLB debut)
Phil Hughes - 4.9, drafted by NYY
Orlando Hernandez - 4.4, signed by NYY (although he was 32, so not a true prospect)

So that's three pitchers that entered, and were brought up in, the Yankees farm system that turned out to be among their top 10 best pitchers over the last decade (note, I'm not including Hernandez as he was not "developed" by the Yankees). Not bad in my opinion, especially when you consider the fact that the list includes the #2 pitcher (Pettitte), a guy who had a lot of promise before a freak injury (Wang), and another that's only 25 and whose future is yet to be determined (Hughes).

And let's not forget that, during those 10 years, the team missed the playoffs once (2008), made it to the World Series once (2003), and won the World Series (2009). Which brings me to my main argument... the Yankees are not a team that rebuilds. They aren't going to settle for missing the playoffs for a few years in order to develop players, and make a run at a title down the road. This is a team that looks to win now and develop players (at least in the past few years, as their philosophy has changed quite a bit). And due to winning like they have, the Yanks aren't able to draft nearly as much great raw talent as teams like the Tampa Rays, Washington Nationals, or Kansas City Royals have.

This topic has been brought up a handful of times by me over at Daily Sports Pages, and I'll repeat it again...

If you want to root for a team that has great minor league systems, then take off the Yankee t-shirt and root for somebody else. I'd much rather cheer for a team that not only creates some great players every once in a while (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Robinson Cano), some serviceable MLB players (Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera), and has some good/great prospects (Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez), but also wins.

And just for kicks, here are the 4 teams that made it to their respective League Championship Series last season, along with their 2011 farm system ranking according to AOLNews' Frank Piliere...

Milwaukee - 30th
Detroit - 24th
Texas - 9th
St. Louis - 17th

Where did the Yankees finish on that list? 4th. I rest my case.

Sometimes Waiting Is Not The Right Thing

This was my Pinch Hitter post for the LoHud Yankees blog, which was posted this morning.

Our next Pinch Hitter is Bryan Van Dusen, who was born in upstate New York a little past midnight on the night the Yankees won the 1977 World Series. “I’m sure my father resents me to some degree for missing the game due to my mother being in labor,” he wrote. Bryan now lives in Columbus, Ohio and says he gets “disgusted” looks when he wears his Yankees gear around town. He recently co-founded a Yankees blog called The Greedy Pinstripes.

For his guest post, Bryan looked back at his feelings at the beginning of this offseason, then he wrote about why he’s glad the Yankees didn’t settle on the strategy he initially wanted.

When C.J. Wilson was signed by the Angels, that was okay with me. When I found out how much Texas paid to negotiate with Yu Darvish, I was happy the Yankees weren’t as aggressive. I would have liked Mark Buehrle in pinstripes, but four years is a bit long for a guy about to enter his age 33 season, so again, no problem. As for trading for guys like Gio Gonzalez or Mat Latos? The Yankees could win in 2012 without them, so why deal away good/great prospects?

You see, I wanted the Yankees to be in position to go after one of the many good/great pitchers that could be free agents after the 2012 season; starters such as Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and Zack Greinke.

But there was, and is, a major problem with that thinking: Hamels, Cain, and Greinke may not be available to the Yankees, or anybody else, after the season.

Cain is about to enter his age 27 season, so it’s not like the Giants should be concerned about giving him an extension due to age. I could see Milwaukee wanting to bring back either Greinke or Shaun Marcum – or both — to go along with Yovani Gallardo. Although I don’t buy into all the talk that Hamels will eventually sign an extension, it’s certainly not because he isn’t worth it. The Marlins might also want to extend Anibal Sanchez, and guys like Gavin Floyd, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, and James Shields all have club options for 2013 that will likely be picked up.

Overall, there’s a decent chance that not one good/great pitcher will reach free agency after the 2012 season. For all those people pointing at CC Sabathia and saying, “we spent money on CC instead of trading for him, let’s do that again,” we’re in a different era, and we may not have that choice. Trading for somebody could very well be the best route to take, and doing so now may not be a bad idea at all.

Which brings us to January 13th, a day Yankees fans may never forget.

Jesus Montero could very well be a stud in the big leagues. In 61 MLB at bats last season he put up a triple-slash of .368/.406/.590, and it was all but certain he would be the team’s regular DH for 2012, and I was okay with that. But it’s not ideal to have a 22-year-old, full-time DH on a team that might need that spot for A-Rod, Jeter and possibly Teixeira sometime down the road. They say that when it comes to a talent like Montero, you find a spot for the guy, and the Yankees were doing exactly that. But it doesn’t mean it was a good spot, so if there was a way to improve the situation … go for it.

That’s exactly what Brian Cashman did.

Michael Pineda had an ERA last season of 3.74, which was 22nd among all qualified American League starters. His FIP of 3.42 was tied with James Shields for 11th. His K/9 of 9.11 was 2nd. Pineda could easily be a team’s No. 1 starter. Pair him with a guy named CC, and outside of Philadelphia I don’t think you’ll find a better 1-2 punch in all of baseball. Oh, and I should point out that Michael is only 23, and is under team control for another 5 years.

Can the offense survive without Montero? Yeah, something tells me they’ll be okay there. After all, they scored the second most runs in all of MLB last year, and did most of that without Montero, not to mention that A-Rod only played in 99 games and Teixiera had his worst offensive season since his rookie year.

So I’m happy about the trade. I’m also happy about signing Hiroki Kuroda for only one year at $10 million. I won’t get that much into why I’m pleased with the Kuroda signing, let’s just say that according to Fangraphs, Hiroki has been worth $13.225 million per season since he joined MLB. I believe his numbers will get a bit worse in the AL, but $10 million for only one season as the team’s No. 3 starter sounds just fine.

Waiting for next year’s free agent market might have seemed like a good strategy, but free agency is no sure thing, and the Yankees were right to strike when they had the opportunity.